Different Types Of Gymnosperm Plants
Plants lacking flowers but producing cones or strobili are called gymnosperms. Speaking of the distinct types of gymnosperm plants, there exist four different categories under which all gymnosperm botanical life forms are classified. Around 550 species of conifer trees exist worldwide and make up the largest group of gymnosperms. Conifers may be evergreen or deciduous. Their cones may be hard and dry, such as with pine and spruce trees, or fleshy, like with junipers. Some conifers lose their needles or scaly leaves in winter, as in the case of larches (Larix spp.) and cypresses (Taxodium spp.). Conifers tend to inhabit colder and drier habitats around the world. Found primarily in the warmer climates of the world, cycads comprise the next largest group of gymnosperms. Cycads more widely existed during the times of the dinosaurs as evidenced in fossil records. Cycads look like miniature palms or massive ferns, but are neither.
Cycads develop wood-like trunks with long fronds on trunk tips. Just like with conifers, cycad plants produce cones, but they arise from the trunk tip at the base of leaves. The only species still in existence today of this group of gymnosperms is the Ginkgo biloba. According to fossils, other species once existed eons ago. The maidenhair tree does exactly produce a seed like conifers or cycads, but an intermediate structure simply called an ovule. Then, also known as gnetales, gnetophytes have a woody anatomy, similar to conifers and cycads, but differ from all three gymnosperms insomuch as they contain vessel element cell types, something that the other gymnosperms do not have. These special types of cells form a part of xylems, which are the botanical tissues responsible for conducting water to all parts of a plant. Gnetophytes share this typical feature with angiosperms.
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